Lyrics from our favorite songs may have given poor love advice
I think I've finally found my ticket to fame and fortune.
If I can just expand this column into a paperback, I can do the talk show circuit and "60 Minutes," maybe even be featured in People magazine.
You see, I've discovered the real reason why so many baby boomer marriages are in trouble. Are you ready for this? Our parents were right: it was our music.
Let me explain. I was listening to an oldies station the other day. A tune we all know came on — one I'd name it if I wasn't afraid of getting sued.
You'll recognize the story: a girl (the singer) throws a party and invites her boyfriend, Johnny. They're each off doing their own thing when, all of a sudden, she notices he is dancing with somebody named Judy. And what's even worse, Judy is wearing Johnny's class ring. (Now, all this is also documented in another song by the same group; it's a complicated story, so it takes two songs.)
Not to be outdone, our heroine grabs the nearest guy and plants a more-than-just-friendly kiss on his rather surprised lips. Of course, no sooner does this innocent bystander unpucker when Johnny rushes over and plants a fist right where the kiss had been.
Now, we don't know anything else about this guy, but we can assume he probably needed some major dental work. Judy, however, bursts into tears. Johnny takes his ring back and he and the singer are joyfully reunited.
Who wants to put money on the future marital bliss of this happy couple?
So, what did we learn about relationships from all this? Well, other than the fickleness of people named Judy and Johnny, we found out that commitment doesn't mean much; we shouldn't bother trying to talk things out; when we are hurt and angry, we should get even; violence is an acceptable way to settle an argument; and if a strange girl kisses you, duck.
This is just one example. Think of some of the other things we heard daily on the radio. What adolescent boy didn't dream of the girl he thought was "So Fine," or would proclaim to the world "I Will Follow Him."
How many girls decided such devotion was the key to romantic success or wished their guys returned the favor, perhaps sounding like the Everly Brothers singing "Devoted to You."
And we all wanted a bit of "Love Potion No. 9." As we grew older we heard that "Satisfaction" had mainly to do with getting some "action" — and we all knew what that meant.
Seems like all of a sudden we've gotten serious here. I guess that's because, all kidding aside, our music did reflect and influence our understanding of how men and women were supposed to get along. And some of this understanding hasn't proven to be all that useful. There's a lot more to relationships than teasing and flirting, instant infatuation, passionate romance or sex.
I guess we heard that, too, at least sometimes. Remember "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow," "R-E-S-P-E-C-T," and the dangers of a "Love Child?" All this is not to suggest that we throw away all our old 45s or switch from listening to oldies to New Age.
I'm just wondering if we might take a look at some of the things we did (and perhaps still do) believe about love and romance, and see whether they fit the real world. I'll bet we've accumulated some wisdom in the last 25 or so years, and that maybe we understand a bit more about what makes relationships work than we did when we were young and in love.
A final thought: A good many of us have teens of our own now. What are they listening to? Certainly some rap, alternative music and even some mainstream pop seem to glorify shallow, sexually oriented relationships as the norm.
I'm not suggesting we censor our kids' music — after all, did that work with us? We might, however, talk to our children about other ideas and values. We could even share our own musical heritage and experience as a way of beginning such a conversation.
In the meantime, we can all keep in mind those immortal words of wisdom: "Louie, Louie, oh, oh …"
• The Rev. Ken Potts' book "Mix, Don't Blend: A Guide to Dating, Engagement, and Remarriage with Children" is available through book retailers.
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